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Afternoon Poll: Your Take On The Bag Tax

by Aaron Kraut — June 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm 397 29 Comments

Flickr photo by Mr. T in DCA County Council public hearing on a bill that would roll back Montgomery County’s bag tax is set for Tuesday night.

It’s expected to pit environmentalists against some of the very lawmakers who pushed for the five-cent fee for all plastic and paper bags that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

Now, County Councilmembers Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase), Nancy Floreen (D-At large) and Craig Rice (D-Upcounty) want to limit the tax to grocery stores and other retailers (such as Target) where food makes up more than 2 percent of gross sales by dollar value. The bill would also repeal the tax on plastic food take-out bags.

Berliner, Floreen and Rice said it’s not reasonable to expect people to bring reuseable bags to Home Depot, Nordstrom’s or boutique shops in a mall. Montgomery collected more than double the amount of revenue analysts expected from the bag tax in 2012.

“I have always been concerned that if you overreach in trying to achieve a noble end, you turn a law of good intentions into a law that breeds resentment.  The shift in consciousness that you achieve is not one that promotes protecting the environment, but rather one that diminishes support for doing so,” Berliner said in April. “We can not afford to squander good will on marginal outcomes.  There is no doubt in my mind that government will need to play a strong role – and in many cases a leading role — if we are to continue making strides toward protecting our planet. I want to save our political chits for the tough fights ahead – and when we get there, I want to have earned the community’s trust that we will not squander their progressive capital.”

In a March Council Committee hearing, Berliner questioned how effective the tax has been at changing people’s shopping behaviors. He also asked why the county wouldn’t outright ban plastic bags, as has been done in some jurisdictions, if plastic bags are such a problem.

Bob Hoyt, director of Montgomery’s Department of Environmental Protection, vigorously defended the tax in that hearing and said repealing parts of it now could hurt the progress being made around county streams and creeks, where clean-up groups have reported significantly fewer plastic bags.

What’s your take? As always, feel free to leave comments if one of the below options doesn’t quite convey your opinion.

Flickr photo by Mr. T in DC

  • alco

    Why can’t individuals be expected to bring their own bags to a shopping mall? If people really resent paying the 5 cents for bags, then they should simply learn to carry a cloth bag with them, perhaps in the car. I think the ultimate goal should be to change consumer behavior, not just to generate revenue from the bag tax. I don’t see why a cloth bag can’t be like your wallet: if you’re going out and might want to buy something, you bring it, just in case.

    • Patrick

      The Democrats want to control every aspect of your life including what you eat and drink. They control the size of our cups and much, much more.
      Now they want to mandate that we carry a bag with us at all times.
      You may enjoy being micro-managed, but I don’t.

      • Leigh Byrnes

        It’s hard to take you seriously with that tinfoil hat you’ve got on.

        • Patrick

          Leigh – I’m sorry if the truth about Democrats offend you.
          Perhaps you should reconsider your political views.

      • rorojo

        Let me guess you are all for “micro-managing” women’s reproductive health and who is allowed to marry who. I will take the blue state bag taxes and cigarette taxes and you can have the red state transvaginal ultrasounds. I think that is a fair trade. /feeding the troll.

        • PAtrick

          Rorojo – Well then, your guess would be all wrong.

          • PAtrick

            Rorojo – You can marry the same gender as yourself. That won’t bother me at all. I hope that the two of you will be happy together as you vote to raise your on Taxes.

            The ‘Rain Tax’ is next.

            Enjoy !!!

  • Noah

    The county shouldn’t be getting involved in store’s right to give away bags. If there is a pollution issue than we should just raise taxes/cut spending to fix it and enforce laws against people who litter their bags. The whole bag fee plan is an over step by the county and generates resentment.

    • County_resident

      this IS raising taxes to clean up the pollution.

  • Patrick

    This is what we get for living in a Blue State – Tax, Tax, Tax…..
    There is literally no end to Taxing when Democrats are in charge.

    • rorojo

      How odd. I never seem pay the bag tax. I wonder how that is?

      • County_resident

        maybe you go through the self-checkout line at the grocery store and aren’t honest about the number of bags you use??? that’s what most people do.

        • Patrick

          Yes – That’s probably what Rorojo does – steal bags. How pathetic. He seems to be Okay with Taxing others, but not himself. This is the typical mindset of the Occupy Wall Street crowd.

          • rorojo

            Yes that’s right. Us looney liberals that want to save money and not screw up the environment bring bags with us to the store.

          • Patrick

            Rorojo – The joke is on you my friend. Only a small percent of the Bag Tax goes toward cleaning up. The rest goes into the general tax fund. The Bag Tax is nothing but a Scam to raise your taxes under the guise of ‘Saving the Planet’.

            As usual – the Democrats who run Montgomery County are deceptive about your tax dollars. Only a chump would fall for this scam.

            BTW, I never litter – Never !!!

            I have always re-cycled and re-purposed plastic bags. Unlike you – I don’t need a Bag Tax to force me into doing the right thing. I don’t need Big Government to hold my hand and tell me right from wrong.

            You seem to enjoy Taxes. So, you must be really excited about the next Montgomery County Tax Hike / Scam —> the ‘Rain Tax’.

        • rorojo

          Or I bring a bag with me…

      • Patrick

        Rorojo – a) Either you have a bag with you at all times or b) you have been charged and didn’t notice. I suspect you didn’t notice. If you think this Tax is Okay, then you are going to love the Montgomery County ‘Rain Water’ Tax that’s coming next (Please Google this for more details). Democrats are all about Taxing you. Red States don’t have this non-sense. Why is it that – Blue States are in the Red and Red States are in the Black. Go figure……

        • rorojo

          Option a.

  • MechanicalTurk

    It really should be up to the store owner if they want to charge for bags or not. If the real concern is pollution, which it isn’t, there are other ways than the bag tax. This was a clever move to collect more taxes without causing an uproar. Also I have noticed that the quality of plastic bags has decreased since the passing of the bag tax.

    • County_resident

      actually the real concern IS pollution. the county is mandated by EPA to reduce the amount of trash in streams and storm drains. this is part of that.
      you’re thinking of the red light cameras.

      • Patrick

        Don’t be fooled:
        Only a small percent of the Bag Tax goes toward cleaning up.
        The rest goes into the general tax fund.
        The Bag Tax is nothing but a Scam to raise your taxes in general.
        It has been marketed under the guise of ‘Saving the Planet’.
        This kind of nonsense doesn’t happen in Red States like Virginia.
        Blue States like MD and CA are full of scams like this.
        Next up – The ‘Rain Tax’ Scam.

        • Leigh Byrnes

          The bag tax is supposed to provide an incentive to bring your own bag so that you don’t use plastic bags and thus there are less plastic bags out there and being made to end up littered. If you hate the bag tax so much and the fact that the government is profiting off of it, then guess what you can do: USE REUSABLE BAGS! It’s not rocket science! If people are actually angry about the tax, I think it’s a good thing, because maybe they will get sick of paying it and will cave in and start making better long-term decisions. Sadly, lots of people in this country need economic incentives to do the right thing, to look past what benefits them in the short term and to see the big picture, which affects everyone.

          By the way, Virginia is not a Red State, and there is a heck of a lot more nonsense that goes on there than in Maryland.

          • Patrick

            Va is indeed a Red State.

            Just ask Republican Gov. Bob McDonnel.

            Please tell me Leigh – Why are all of the Blue States in the Red financially, and the Red States are in the Black?

            Could it be because Red States don’t have ‘Bag Taxes’ and ‘Rain Taxes’?

    • Leigh Byrnes

      If it were up to store owners, most wouldn’t charge the tax because it would give them a competitive advantage.

  • County_resident

    so, seriously?? if council members don’t want to take reusable bags into their high-falutin’ stores, they could always carry their purchases out with no bag. or they could just suck it up and pay a nickel. it’s FIVE CENTS, people!!!!

  • Patrick

    The ‘Bag Tax’ is a litmus test for the upcoming ‘Rain Tax’.

    The Democrats who gave you the Bag Tax are now piecing together their next Tax Scam – ‘The Rain Tax’.

    The ‘Bag Tax’ Hike has emboldened them to move forward.

    The ‘Rain Tax’ is coming sooner than later …….

  • Herman Jones

    If this passes, there may be a SLIGHT bit of common sense left on the council. I am so sick of getting to the end of the check-out line at the pet store, electronic store, office supply store… and having the clerk sorta of give me the look, like there you go – leaving my twelve items sitting out there at the end of the counter for all to see.

    What about a bag? I ask. Oh, sure, Uhhh that’ll be 5 cents unless you need two.

    Or how about the self-checkout lines at Giant. NO BAGS because people may
    “steal” them and dare to put their groceries in them without entering the total amount “purchased” at the end of the transaction. I have seen fights, screaming and people just leave baskets full of food and walk out.

    Survey’s showing plastic bag removal based on anecdotal information from volunteers can be manipulated to show whatever results you want. Ike Leggett said in an interview on WTOP this tax was intended to change behavior first and foremost. His plan hasn’t worked. It has changed no one who didn’t want change in the first place based on the amount of revenue collected by the county for this alleged environmental clean-up effort.

    If the county is bringing in record revenue from the tax, that would mean bags are being purchased. They must be going somewhere. If not the rivers and streams as quoted from the surveys, then where? This is a first-rate money grab and some on the council do not want this changed out of fear off cutting of this new, innovative
    revenue source.

    The people defending this and squawking the loudest are the people who run the programs that benefit from the tax collected by this scheme.

    Good for you Mr. Berliner, Ms. Floreen and Mr. Rice!

    End this nonsense Montgomery county!

    • Patrick

      Herman – You have summed up the situation very nicely.

      This is nothing but another Blue State Tax Scam.

  • Renni

    I work at a grocery store in Montgomery County. This past June I lifted a reusable bag stuffed to the brim with juices, as the customer said too (This is very common). My back popped and went out. I am on prescription pain killers and see a specialist 40 minutes away (one way) every two weeks. I am in a lot of pain and continue with 45 minutes of physical therapy every day. I am still receiving workers compensation, and will likely have back pain the rest of my life. I am 25. Thank you Montgomery County!!!!!!

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